1. Candidate Profile
  2. Education
  3. Introduction
  4. Electronic Vs Paper material
  5. Tempo and style
  6. Prelims (CSAT) General studies
  7. Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude
  8. Prelim accuracy
  9. Mains: Compulsory language paper
  10. Mains: Essay
  11. General Studies (Mains) paper 1
  12. General studies (Mains) paper 2
  13. General studies (Mains) Paper 3
  14. General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude
  15. Mains answer-writing?
  16. Mains Optional Subject
  17. Before the interview
  18. During the interview
  19. CSE-2015 Marksheet
  20. Career Backup
  21. Views on UPSC reforms
  22. Insecurity about profile
  23. Wisdom
  24. Credit: Friends/family
  25. BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Candidate Profile

Q. Details
Name Charchit Gaur
Rank in CSE-2015 96
Roll No. 0266880
Age 22
Total attempts in CSE (including this one) 1
Optional Subject Chemistry
Schooling Medium English
College medium English
Medium chosen for Mains answers English
Medium chosen for Interview English
Home town/city Kota
Work-experience if any Internship in Honeywell
Details of other competitive exams, including success/failures International Mathematics Olympiad rank-1, awarded trip to Russia to view solar eclipse,
Details of coaching, mock tests, postal material for any competitive exam (if used) Mrunal.org
Vision and gs score for mains answer writting
Service preferences (Top-5) Ias> ifs> ips>irs
state cadre preference (Top-5) Rajasthan> MP> guj>Punjab


% in class 10 94.6
% in class 12 91.2
Graduation course and % 84.8 in chemical engineering
Name of college, city, passing out year IIT-Delhi, delhi,2015
Post-graduation None
Any other professional courses None
Hobbies & Extracurricular achievements Teaching, cooking


Q. Tell us something about yourself, your family, when and why did you enter in this field of competitive exams?
UPSC Topper Charchit Gaur

Ans) My father is an engineer and my mother is principal both in kota (rajasthan). Actually in IIT delhi itself some of my friends were preparing for this exam and when I come in contact with them I also thought of preparing for the same in my third year. I realized that this job can provide an opportunity to bring tangible change in people life and during my internship in Honeywell in third year I thought that working in a big MNC wont give me job satisfaction and so even though I was offered a placement offer I opted for Civil Services as a career.

Electronic Vs Paper material

Q. In recent times, there is spur in electronic material- blogs, sites, pdfs, RSS-feeds. Many aspirants feel bogged down by this information overload. So, how much do you rely on electronic material and how much on the paper material (Books, newspapers)? If possible, narrate a typical day in your studylife. What is your style of preparation (e.g. I continue making notes no matter what I’m reading, I just read multiple times but don’t maintain notes, I make mindmaps on computer …or xyz style)
Ans) First of all electronic material played a very important role in my selection especially mrunal.org. most of my study material was electronic. I used to watch videos of each and every thing possible. Since I didn’t do a proper coaching for GS I used to watch videos for concept that were difficult to grasp. I am not very good in reading books I always find shortcuts, like watching videos.
A typical day never came because before may 2015 my college was going on and along with college I used to study news paper and my optional for complete 4th year. Though I will admit I was not regular with things but I tried to complete chemistry optional and laxmikanth polity in my 4th year.
After my college I came to know about mrunal sir putting videos on internet so I watched and tried to remember them all. And so from may to august everything was in rush I defined boundaries of syllabus and tried to complete it before prelim day. I limited myself to one source per topic and not trying to read same thing from different books.
After august I was not that much confidence about selection so I focused on optional and ethics-paper 4 much as it would have benefited even if me not get selected, and after prelims result joined test series and focused on GS according to syllabus in mock test.
After prelims I never again read what I read for prelims except for 2 3 days for revising some very important thing. I was busy completing things that were new in the syllabus of mains.

Tempo and style

Q. People know what books and syllabus points are to be prepared. But most of them lack consistency in their preparation. So, how do you keep study momentum going on? How do you fight against the mood swings and distractions?
Ans) i was living in my home so whenever I used to feel low I used to talk to my mother and sometimes used to watch some useful/non-useful videos on youtube. Sometimes used to watch cartoons and some comedy series. One should know that it is not possible to study for 14 hours a day for 7 days a week. So one should make target accordingly. I used to take a gap after 4 5 days to relax. But one must adhere to the targets and must keep sufficient gap for relaxing.

Prelims (CSAT) General studies

Topic strategy/booklist/comment
History Ancient Left
History Medieval Left
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Spectrum
Culture and society Nitin singhania
Polity (theory + current) Laxmikanth
Economy (theory + current) Mrunal.org
Science (theory + current) For current slideshare.net
Environment (theory + current) Shankar ias
geography physical Ncert + mrunal.org
geography India Mrunal.org+ ncert
geography world Mrunal.org+ ncert
other national/international current affairs Nothing specific
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Nothing specific

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS prelim 2015 paper?
Ans) read limited sources but by heart things like ncert of geography for class 11 both. Direct question were asked from them. Try to remember all mrunal video. I could remember that in one of the geography video Rajtanil Solanki mam talked about Golan heights and same question was there in prelims. So limit yourself but be thorough about what you read.
Q. Now that Aptitude paper has become qualifying, obvious more attention needs to be paid on the GS paper so apart from the books that you already have gone through, what else would you have tried for CSE-2016 (if you were going to appear)?

Prelims (CSAT) Aptitude

Topic strategy / booklist
Maths Knew
Reasoning Knew
Comprehension Knew
Decision Making Knew

Q. Any observation / comments / tips about GS Aptitude 2015 paper.
Ans) do question that are easy. Donot get trap in long reading passage type question.

Prelim accuracy

Q1. Did you attend any ‘mock tests’? do you think they’re necessary for success?
Ans) didn’t have time for any mock test. But one should give a number of test it will improve your accuracy. The prelims paper was my first full length test. But it would always be helpful and will increase your score by margin of 10-15.
Q2. Approximate no. of attempted answers vs. correct answers. in CSAT-2015

attempted Q. correct (Expected) Official score
GS 78 62 111.34
aptitude 124.89

Mains: Compulsory language paper

Compulsory language paper Your preparation strategy / booklist?
English paper None
your regional language Past paper

Q. other observations / tips / comments on the length / difficulty level of compulsory language papers in CSE-2015
Ans) it was a good experience.

Mains: Essay

Q1. How did you prepare for the essay paper?
Ans) test series of vision for essay.

Q2. Which two essays did you write and What key points did you include in it?

  • Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil.
  • Dreams which should not let India sleep.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

Topic How did you prepare?
Culture Nitin + mrunal.org videos
Indian history Spectrum
world history Roman saini video till first world war+ for 2 wars
post-independence India Pradhanmantri series
Indian society From test series while writing
role of women, poverty etc. From test series while writing, mrunal.org
globalization on Indian society From test series while writing, mrunal.org
communalism, regionalism, secularism Roman Saini Videos
world geo physical Mrunal.org
resource distribution Mrunal.org(materials not video)
factors for industrial location Mrunal.org(materials not video)
earthquake tsunami etc Mrunal.org
impact on flora-fauna Nothing specific

General studies (Mains) paper 2

For paper 2 laxmikanth was already done for pre. For mains I didn’t do topic wise but completed following things:

  • First of all mrunal.org videos all videos I tried to remember. It contains stuff like ngo, pressure groups, some international relation videos, SDG which were for hunger and education, some current affairs also, all in all mains economics series had a lot portion of GS paper-2. Also some prelims videos also had material for paper 2 like corporate governance etc.
  • Insight secure monthly question and answer for paper-2. I completed for january to December.

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization Mrunal.org
inclusive growth Mrunal.org
Budgeting Mrunal.org
major crops, irrigation Mrunal.org
agro produce – storage, marketing Mrunal.org
e-technology for famers Mrunal.org
farm subsidies, MSP Mrunal.org
PDS, buffer, food security Mrunal.org
technology mission Mrunal.org
animal rearing economics Mrunal.org
food processing Mrunal.org
land reforms Mrunal.org
Liberalization Mrunal.org
Infra Mrunal.org
investment models Mrunal.org
science-tech day to day life None
Indian achievements in sci-tech None
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Mrunal.org
environmental impact assessment Shankar ias
Disaster Management While writing for test series
non state actors, internal security Mrunal.org pratik sir
internal security – role of media, social networking site Nothing specific
cyber security Nothing specific
money laundering Mrunal.org
border  Management Nothing specific
organized crime, terrorism Nothing specific
security agencies- structure mandate Nothing specific

By mrunal.org for paper 3 I mean all videos under heading mains as well as videos of prelims. I watched all videos for mains from mains video series but from prelims series watched selective videos for mains.

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Q. Many candidates found Mains-2015 Ethics paper very peculiar and “out of the book”. What are your observations and tips for future aspirants regarding preparation of this paper?
Ans) my strategy included:

  • Michael Sandel videos for ethics.
  • some videos from mrunal.
  • gs score materials. It contained 6 sheets I read first four and could not read last two.
  • My main focus was on writing paper. I gave tests and from these tests I used to learn practical example. I used to discuss philosophical thoughts with my friends as I was not well versed with philosophical part of ethics. I also read toppers copy which also gave insight on how to write good answer.

Mains answer-writing?

Please tell us how many marks worth attempt did you give? along with comments if any, in the following cells:

Paper Best attempted Average quality namesake answer Total attempt
GS1 All
GS2 18
GS3 All
GS4 All
Opt-P1 210 marks
Opt-P2 All

Ans)  my focus was to write all answer. Since in my mock test series I was never able to complete the paper so there I focused on completing the paper. If in paper 2 I would have thought of knowing answer completing I would have attempted less then 50% paper so I attempted answer even if knowledge was partial in all paper.
Q. How was your experience with the ‘fixed space’ answer sheet?
Ans) good as it provide a limit. Since my writing is big I used to fill every space available in 150 to 200 words.
Q. Did you write answers in bullet points or in paragraphs? Some players (who cleared mains and got interview call letter) were claiming that they wrote entire paper in bullet points, so it doesn’t matter….whether examiner is asking ‘examine, comment, discuss or xyz’….simply write in bullets and points.
Ans) This thing is situational but most of my answer were either in points or in small paragraphs.
Q. Did you follow the “introduction-body-conclusion” format? because some mains-qualified candidates claim they simply wrote the points they could recall within the time, instead of bothering with proper introduction and conclusion.
Ans) I tried to follow this all throughout the paper as this provide completeness.
Q5. Did you use highlighters / sketchpens in your answers?
Ans) completing the paper was aim and adventure like this could cost one 1-2 question which mean reduction in marks directly.
Q6. Did you draw any diagram in any paper? (e.g. in GS1 Geography)
Ans) none
Q7. If yes, Did you draw diagrams with pencil or pen?
Ans) none
Q8. Did you use ruler to draw the lines in diagram? Or did you just make it by hand?
Ans) none
Q9. You wrote the answer in blue pen or black pen?
Ans) blue

Mains Optional Subject

Q. What’s your optional subject and why did you chose it and not something else?
Ans) chemistry. I always wanted to choose a science optional. And during my internship I met a friend who explained me pros of chemistry over other optional. So understanding my strength I choose chemistry, and it did paid well in mains.
Q. If a new player wants to pick this subject, would you advice for it or against it? (e.g. every senior player in Public Administration seems to be advising against pub.ad)
Ans) you can take chemistry as a optional but what my understanding say is you can do GS without any coaching but for optional like chemistry it would be appropriate if you do a coaching. They define boundary for you and since there are not much up and down in science optional marks it will definitely help you and you can be sure of good if you are comfortable
Q. First the essential book/resource list. (Also mention which one is the “Base book” for covering the theory? + Whatever comments you’ve for a particular book e.g. “my seniors said read xyz book but I found that ABC book was better”.  “xyz topic not given properly in this book, so prepare from xyz website or book…” OR and so on.)
Ans) R.K.Singh sir notes plus abheejet aggarwal blogg
Q. How much of internet-research / current affairs is necessary for this optional? OR can one simply rely on the books and be done with this subject?
Ans) sometime it is needed to clarify doubts.
Q. How many months did it take to finish the core optional syllabus?
Ans) I started my optional coaching in September 2014 and coaching got over in around march. And all this time I was doing college+ newspaper+ chemistry. And after prelims till prelims result I did ethics plus chemistry. And then in November for 15 days I did chemistry. Now you can add up J
Q. How many days/ weeks before the exam, you started answer writing practice?
Ans) I gave 7-8 test for optional in my coaching
Q. Do you maintain self-notes for revision of optional? In which format- electronic or paper?
Ans) yes I have converted 6-7 copies of chemistry into 30-40 A-4 paper notes so that whole chemistry could be revised in a single go.
Q. Your observation about the difficultly level of 2015 mains vs previous papers. And what precautions / rectifications are necessary in the future strategy for given optional subject?
Ans) organic paper 2 was very easy I attempted full but got less number. But paper 1 was tough some things were out of syllabus and so could not attempt but still got good numbers.

Before the interview

Q1. How did you prepare for the interview? – for college grad, hobbies, place of origin, current affairs at national and international level?
Ans) college grad: recently graduated so remember most of stuff but did my final project and internship matter in detail.
Hobbies: choose cooking a vast hobby regretted later but devoted daily 1-2 hours on reading on cooking for 10-15 days. Teaching was fine as my mother is principal so knew state policies and done national policies from yojana January edition
Current affairs newspaper the Indian express
Q2. Did you attend any mock interviews by coaching classes? How were they similar / different than official interview? Do you believe it is necessary to attend such mock interviews?
Ans) it is good to attend mock interview. Though feedback was average in my mocks I was able to perform in final interview
Q3. Where did you stay for the interview? (Hotel / friend’s home …) and what books/material did you bring for the ‘revision before interview’?
Ans) I took a room in delhi for some days.
Q4. Any words of wisdom about Medical checkup?
Ans) none
Q5. Describe the formal-dress worn by you in interview.
Ans) suit.

During the interview

Q1. Who was the chairman of you interview board?
Ans) vinay mittal
Q2. How long was the interview?
30-35 minutes
Q3. Why do you want to join civil service? Why don’t you continue in your graduation field? Social service can be done from private sector too.  [Since I don’t know whether they ask you this question or not. But if they had asked- what will be your reply?]
Ans) it was not asked. If it would have been my answer would have been standard one.
Q4. Please narrate your entire interview- what questions did they ask and what did you reply and other pleasant or uncomfortable experiences during the interview. (Earlier some toppers only tell me their question but not their answer. I would appreciate if you give both Question + your original answers)
Interview timing was around 3:15 to 3:45 on 31 march. I was very very nervous.
Chairman: come sit down. (I haven’t asked for may I come in and was standing near entrance itself so I quickly done may I come in and then good afternoon sir good afternoon mam). He again said sit down.
Me: thank you
Chairman: so what you are charchit. What it mean?
Me: famous.
Chairman: are you?
Me: a little.
Chairman: but you have very good cgpa, you might be very famous in college?
Me: yes sir. Thank you sir.
Chairman: what is this trip to Russia?(as I had visited Russia after securing good rank in olympaid)
Me: explained what I did and also answer 2 3 supplementary question.
Chairman: what is KVPY?( I also had this written in my daf. It is basically a scholarship)
Me: explained.
Chairman: so if there is a policy from center that will damage the local area will you implement it?
Me: I will find variable and modify it.
Ch: but you can’t?
Me: then I will prepare a presentation based on facts and present to my senior official with a plan b
Ch: if he dont listen?
Me: will go to next level but wont implement faulty policy
Ch: do you read current happenings?
Me: yes(had to say yes)
Ch: what is new economic policy by arvind subramaniam?
Me: no idea( actually I said it smiling showing that no one of my age could know it and since many people have told me that even if you give 10 wrong answer to chairman it won’t matter and mine was first no …so in my mind I was relaxed)
Chairman direct to member 1.
Mem-1: if a file is leaked in media declaring the policy is faulty will you use the media to bring pressure on senior?
Me: no sir I will use my own research and not some media ruomur.
Mem-1: you are from kota? Why coaching is famous in kota.
Me: prepared answer. First to come, brand value, resources developed.
Mem-1: is naxalism a problem? Do govt realized it is a problem? Why it persist?
Me: (answered like any other sane person would)
Mem-2: you are chemical eng. So tell me how drone work?
Me: didn’t know how they work so explained what are they. Didn’t remember whether he was satisfied or not.
Mem-2: clean ganga project
Me: explained
Mem-3: should there be more IIT?
Me: yes, new experiment with new branches, do combine research-interdisciplinary research, population increasing, attract researcher from outside and within India, focus on rural with new iit, (5-6 more fundae cant remember now, she said good after the answer)
Mem-3: you are from raj, women carry water on head, what is the solution?
Me- 3 ways to address, if infra missing give infra, if no water use water harvesting, if infra and water both there but water polluted clean it.
Mem-3: what are model of rain water harvesting?
Me: couldnot remb mam, but cm of rajasthan have launched new schemes to conserve water.(told 2 3 fundaes again a good)
Chairman said now mem 4 but mem 3 intrreupted and said one more question so chairman allowed her to ask one more but currently couldn’t remember.
Mem-4: teaching is your hobby so whom do you teach
Me: part of nss IIt-delhi teaching underprevilege and answered supplementary question.
2 3 more questions but I could not remember.
Ch: thankyou charchit you may go now.
Q5. Was your interview on the expected lines of what you had prepared or did they ask you totally unexpected questions?  Was it a stress interview, did they ask any uncomfortable questions? If yes, how did you handle it?
Ans) no current affairs so newspaper didn’t help. I found the interview basic generic and me didn’t give any extraordinary answer. Infact the type of question asked didn’t provide any scope for any extraordinary answer.
But interview was not stress.
Q6. Any side details about technicalities like “make sure you bring xyz document or do xyz thing, or you’ll face problem”?
Ans) be calm and drink water I was utterly dehydrated before entering in my mock interview so kept on drinking water sip by sip till I entered the room( this could be my personnel problem also)

Q7. Any word of wisdom / observations about medical checkup?
ANS) upload the medical document after the checkup within a week by logging in on user id and password given

CSE-2015 Marksheet

Q1. Please attach both prelim and final marksheet
Prelims mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Paper 1 111.34
Paper 2 124.89

Mains mark sheet-

Subject Marks obtained
Essay – Paper-1 115
General Studies – Paper 2 95
General Studies – Paper 3 85
General Studies – Paper 4 86
General Studies – Paper 5 91
Optional Paper – Paper-1 145
Optional Paper – Paper-2 123
Written total 740
Personality Test 190
Final Total 930

Q2. After looking at the marksheet, suppose you had to prepare again next time, what changes will you make in your studies?
Ans) ethics+ optional more

Career Backup

Q1. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?
Ans) none
Q2. When were you going to “execute” that backup plan? (e.g. after __ failed attempts/ after I cross __ age/after dad retires/ after girlfriend dumps me etc.)
Ans) none

Views on UPSC reforms

What are your views on following issues-
Q. Optional subjects should be removed altogether. The present stalemate is helping no-one, except coaching-owners, book publishers.
Ans) if it is done then whole 4 year of college study would go waste because ideally it is expected you should choose optional keeping in mind your background( but I do think this make paper bias)
Q. Your views on the decision to make CSAT paper 33% qualifying?
Ans) deserving will get what they deserve whatever the pattern may be.
Q. Despite what UPSC has done in recent years, it has failed to curb the nuisance of Delhi’s coaching factories. In fact it’s increased under the new Mains-syllabus in 2015. Let’s face it, most candidates who gave Mains-2015 have relied on (authentic OR Xeroxed) coaching notes because there was hardly any time left to prepare so many topics in such short time. This system work against an individual preparing from far-away area, without any financial resources, high-speed internet or contacts in Delhi.
Ans) Coaching help and people will definitely join if they find it benefitting.
Q. Half-merger of IFoS with CSE is a bad move because it has raised the cutoffs for players who’re solely dedicated to IFoS only (and not to IAS/IPS). Adding salt to the wounds, many who had applied for both jobs, cleared the prelims- they did not even bother to appear in all the papers of Mains-IFoS. (atleast that was the scene in 2013).
Ans) I agree they should be separated
Q. UPSC should disclose official prelim answerkey and cutoffs, immediately after prelim is over, instead of postponing it till interview phase is over.
Ans) very true
Q. UPSC should be conducted online like IBPS and CAT exam to shorten the duration of exam.
Ans) resource crunch

Insecurity about profile

Q. Many candidates prepare sincerely but constantly live under fear about ‘profile insecurity’. I’m not from a big college, I’m not from English medium, and I don’t have work-experience. What if they ask some stressful questions in the interview about this? Did you suffer from such insecurities? What is your message to these candidates?
Ans) no need to afraid , just be clear with ideas. Though I had complete English medium education I fumbled in speaking English for first 2-3 question in interview later on I was normal.


Q. Through this struggle and success, what have your learned? What is the wisdom of life and competition? What is your message to the new aspirants?
Ans) draw boundaries for syllabus. Like last year I knew I didn’t have time to read 2 newspaper yojana, kurkshetra, bipin Chandra etc etc. so I limited my source. Try to remember sources by heart that you want yourself to be confined to. Like if you want to read economics read from mrunal.org all videos but then don’t study from some coaching notes and again from some standard book. Restrict yourself according to time. Like wise if you want to study modern India read from spectrum, then don’t go for bipin Chandra also, ncert also.
Also search for videos, like when I used to study geography ncert I used to watch videos of things that I don’t understand by reading. Finally all will have different strategy find yours by knowing your strength and weakness

Credit: Friends/family

Q. Behind every topper are many people who stood by during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?
Ans) my family was sure about me cracking the exam. I still remember when in 2015 I return to kota in may my family used to tell me you well get through in one go. I used to tell them I haven’t prepared well all that but they always stood by my side.
In mains for my first essay paper I filled my roll number in sheet where I needed to fill my answer sheet code and this led to the wastage of 10-15 minutes during the paper where the invigilator was not cooperative. My dad took me for mains exam and when after essay paper I cried for my silly mistake my dad console me and made me realize about next 6 paper in hand.

BOGUS Marketing Propaganda

Q. You are well aware of the sacred rule of conducting toppers interview- the last question must be about self-marketing. So, Did you use Mrunal.org for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you?  And you can even reply “No”. I’ll still publish your answer without tempering.
Ans) I was waiting to write for this since may 2015, when I first saw all economics video after my graduation. Because of these videos I cleared prelims and mains.
I tried to remember each and every slide of these videos and also my main sources of study included mrunal videos. These videos are easy to watch, understand, and revise as sir also provides slides. I watched these videos thrice or sometime more to be able to grasp and reproduce it. I liked the style of teaching of mrunal sir the example he takes, and convert boring things into interesting one. These videos provided me with raw materials to write even for mains answer and essay especially that dream that India should pursue, also helped me to understand the newspaper more effectively and complete the reading of economic survey. Pratik sir videos were also very helpful in international relations and interna security. One could easily complete maximum part of syllabus using mrunal.org videos.
I whole heartedly want to thank mrunal sir, Rajtanil Solanki mam and Pratik Nayak sir. I am indebted to Mrunal sir for my entire life. Hope to talk these gurus and thank them.